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Total number of comments: 1850 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:38)

Mark Koroi

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  • Netanyahu Emerges Weakened, But Most under Israeli Apartheid were Disenfranchised
    • @John:

      Begin commanded the unit and took part in planning the Deir Yassin incursion, but was not personaly present at Deir Yassin.

      Benzion Cohen was personally present at Deir Yassin as the senior leader of the Irgun. He later rose to the rank of major in the Israel Defense Forces after the Irgun dissolved in 1948. He went on to work for Israel in immigration matters, including service in the Mossad.

    • Yair Lapid is the son of Yossi Lapid, former deputy prime minister under PM Ariel Sharon. He was known for taking a very hard line against both Palestinians and religious Jews within Israel. His son mirrors his father's views.

      Yair Lapid's focus is on domestic issues affecting the middle class.

    • You could also have mentioned Ariel Sharon, who led an IDF unit linked to the massacre of Arabs in Kibya in 1954 and of negligence by the Kahane Commission in connection with his role as defense minister in the massacre by Phalangists of 1,000 Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

      Sharon, as a cabinet minister, once was interviewed while being chauffeuered through Gaza and emphasized to a journalist that was interviewing him that the Gazans needed to be shown force.

      Begin commanded the Irgun at Deir Yassin, a neutral Arab village near Jerusalem, where over 200 villagers were killed. The Irgun saw Deir Yassin as having propaganda value as they felt news of it would deter Arabs from resisting and encourage them to abandon villages.

      Begin would later in a poll of Israelis be named the second most favorite Israeli of all time in a list of the top 100.

      Today the terms "fear" and "deterrent effect" are used by Israeli political and military leaders to describe their relations with Arabs. Ehud Barak indicated that after the Second Lebanon War - the IDF lost its deterrent effect on Hezbollah. After Operation Cast Lead, Israel claimed its deterrent efect was re-established as Gazans understood that rocket attacks would be followed by severe disproportionate military consequences upon them and point to statistics verifying the preciptous decrease of rocket attacks from Gaza following that IDF incursion. A columnist from the liberal Haaretz daily called it an "addiction to force" by Israel.

      Even though there have been serious questions regarding IDF conduct during such military incursions, including claims of war crimes, the Israeli public has supported such wanton violence. Operation Cast Lead, for example, had a 94% approval rating with Israeli Jewish citizens, even though Israel suffered severe diplomatic repercussions and the Goldstone Commission issued a report concluding credible proof of war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed against Gazan civilians.

    • David Ben-Gurion felt much the same way as does most non-Likud bloc political activists within Israel.

      The Labor Party had been somewhat of a bastion for social equality among Jews and Arabs and for establishment of a two-state solution. This continues to this day as Amir Peretz, a former Labor Party defense minister, spearheaded the seating of the first Arab member of the Israeli cabinet and currently seeks direct peace negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

      AIPAC has been very successful however in getting Americans to adopt its version of what is right in the region.

    • Ze'ev Jabotinsky has more public places named after him in Israel than any other Jewish leader. His secretary was PM Netanyahu's father (who passed away last year at age 102). He advocated Revisionsit Zionism and the notion of "Greater Israel".

      His name is rarely mentioned outside Israel, but among a large percentage of Israelis, he is seen as a legendary figure whose political theories are highy regarded.

    • The latest news from Israel is an even 60/60 split in the 120-seat Knesset between traditional Likud bloc allies and center-to-left parties. 66% of the electorate voted.

      Shelly Yacimovich, leader of the Labor Party, expressed doubts whether Netanyahu can pull together a coalition. Labor is expected to receive 15 Knesset seats.

      The leftist Meretz Party, who strongly supports peace with Palestinians and two-state solution with most West Bank Jewish settlements dismantled, will at least double the number of Knesset seats they held (from three to six or seven). Hadash (formerly Israeli Communist Party and having Arab and Jewish membership) and Arab List also received several seats.

      The surprising news is that Ariel Sharon's Kadima is struggling to get a maximum of two Knesset seats when their former leader Ehud Olmert was elected prime minister in 2006.

      Yisrael Beitenu did rather poorly - only getting 11 seats.

      Overall, the center and left did rather well - better than expected in the election.

  • Obama's Inaugural and the Danger of an Iran War
    • Since the Lebanese Civil War in the 1970s, the Shi'ite political fortunes in that nation have steadily risen, initially through the Amal Party and militia, led by Nabih Berri, and later through the extremist Islamic fundamendalist Hezbollah Party and militia headed by Hassan Nasrallah. This has been aided by the Assad regime in Damascus both militarily and via its intelligence operatives within Lebanon assasinating various Christian and Sunni political leaders over the years. Also the birth rate among Shi'ites in Lebanon was significant higher than other groups within that nation - giving a gradual population percentage increase to Shi'ites.

      The Israeli occupation following the 1982 Operation Galilee that ended in 1999 served to crystallize support for Hezbollah in South Lebanon and resulted in Hezbollah becoming a major political force within Lebanon, holding numerous seats in the Lebanese parliament. Nasrallah emerged a national hero following the 2006 Second Lebanon War; the Lebanese Christian president had announced during that conflict, Hezbollah was fighting the IDF with the full support of the Lebanese government.

      However, the pendulum can only swing so high and the decline of the Baathist control over the Syrian government may diminish the fortunes of Shi'ites - especially Hezbollah within Lebanon. Military supply lines to Hezbollah may be interrupted by a new regime in Damascus.

    • "The second danger is the Israeli Likud government's final destruction of any two-state solution and permanent denial to millions of Palestinians the rights of citizenship...."

      No surprise here. Thomas Friedman in his book "From Beirut to Jerusalem", published in the late 1980s, had indicated that the status quo of indefinite occupation by Israeli Defense Forces and a "Civil Administration" is something that Likud Party leadership revels in as the Arab residents in those areas have no voting rights or real civil liberties consonant with a constitutional democracy; and they can never have an meaningful political influence within Israel. This status quo can be perpetuated and consolidated by the establishment of Jewish settlements.

      The Scholars For Peace in the Middle East, an international pro-Israel group with a significant presence on major American universities, including University of Michigan, have pointed out that the American public favors Israel over Palestinian interests by a 3-1 margin in public polling and as long as that support continues, they can count on U.S. foreign policy being friendly to Israel. With U.S. diplomatic support on the U.N. Security Council, Israel is virtually untouchable for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other blatant violations of international law - as was proved by the inaction of the Security Council following issuance of the 462-page Goldstone Commission Report finding credible proof of various atrocities by the Israel Defense Forces.

      The Palestinian Diaspora that commenced in 1948 exists to this day and manifests itself in the multiplicity of refugee camps, stateless persons in Gaza, de facto discrimination within Israel of Arab Israeli citizens, and the dispersal of Palestinians throughout the world.

  • Top Ten Ways President Obama has Expanded our Rights, in Rev. King's Footsteps
    • In 2002, a CIA Predator drone attempted to "take out" with a Hellfire missile Gulbuddin Hekmyatar, a former Afghan prime minister serving in 1994 in the post-Marxist Afghan government. The missile missed its target. This assassination attempt - which went virtually unnoticed by the Western media - clearly violated the executive order of Prseident Ford barring assassination of foreign leaders.

      Hekmyatar had been a major warlord leader who was supplied militarily by the CIA and Saudis during the resistance of the Communist government in Kabul.

      After the failed CIA assassination attempt, Hekmyatar threw his support behing the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and later offered a bounty on American military personnel.

      The U.S. government rarely if at all mentions Hekmyatar in public briefings or adverts to the fact he was once a key U.S. ally. Hekmyatar remains an influential and elusive Afghan rebel leader.

      The attempt to kill this Afghan leader was futile, illegal and inimical to American interests.

    • Obama also was the first president to admittedly personally approve individual extrajudicial assassinations - a practice which Amnesty International asserts violates international law.

      He continued to fund with billions of dollars the State of Israel, a repressive human rights violator, despite the Foreign Assistance Act barring aid to such prospective recipients.

      He also broke his campaign promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

      His administration did not prosecute CIA agents involved in illegal torture.

      The president cannot be compared to Dr. King.

    • Regarding the automotive industry, it should be remembered President Bush, as a lame-duck president in 2008, initiated the first automotive bailout of both GM and Chrysler, which was lauded by Democratic Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.

      It was President Carter who approved the highly successful bailout of Chrysler in 1979 at the height of a recession as the very first federal subsidization of a failing automaker.

      Britain had previously prevented the collapse of Rolls-Royce and the U.S. has also saved Lockheed, an aerospace defense contractor, from bankruptcy on grounds of national security.

  • Algerian Military Retakes Gas Plant: 16 Hostages, 32 terrorists Dead
    • Al-Nusra is likely to be thorn in the side of anyone who succeeds the Assad regime. There is no reason the U.S. would want to see them supported in any way.

      Some reports have suggested the al-Nusra fighters are Iraqi rather than Syrian citizens. The Syrian National Coalition's leader has tried to get the U.S. to lift the terrorist designation assigned to al-Nusra - this is likely because this will not help the cohesiveness of the Free Syrian Army if al-Nusra becomes an organization that will be fighting the Kurds and other anti-Assad elements.

      Al-Nusra has only several hundred fighters and amounts to a small percentage of the Syrian resistance forces. There are not necessary to defeat Assad militarily and may resist a post-Assad transitional government if not represented in the Syrian National Coalition.

      Pro al-Qaeda extremists have caused headaches for every regime that has hosted them - be it Gaza, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen or elsewhere.

  • Syrian Kurds Battle Extremist Fundamentalists
    • The FSA and SNC are fearful that Syria may plunge into a civil war if al-Nusra is not co-opted into a united front.

      While the Free Syrian Army has coordinated attacks on the Baathist forces with al-Nusra and has praised their effectiveness as fighters, it is clear that neither side trusts the other. It has been said that when Free Syrian Army fighter pass by al-Nusra positions, the Jabhat al-Nusra troops disengage the safety devices on their firearms.

      It is clear that al-Nusra's plans in a post-Assad Syria are to impose Sharia law and have a Salafist-controlled Islamic state - these are Islamic extremists. The Syrian National Coalition is composed of Christians, Communists, feminists and chaired by a moderate Muslim - very secular in orientation. Syria is far more secular than Iran or Iraq and it is unlikely that al-Nusra will ever see its goal of an Islamic fundamentalist state.

      The U.N. or U.S Armed Forces may eventually have to intervene should Jabhat al-Nusra decide to militarily oppose a post-Assad regime in Damascus. Another post-Saddam Iraq-like situation could develop where Americans and other Western nations may think: "Those Baathists were not such bad guys after all - they neutralized militant Islamic extremism and kept internal peace."

    • Who constitutes the several hundred fighters of Jabhat al-Nusra? Are they primarily Syrian citizens or Iraqis? Why would they accuse Kurds of being pro-Baathists? Who is arming them? Who is directing their activities?

      The disturbing aspect of al-Nusra's assault on the Kurds is that is destroys the united front the Syrian National Coalition and Free Syrian Army are trying so desperately to establish to topple Assad. So does the terror organization designation by the U.S. State Department against al-Nusra; that designation has little or no practical effect on the group as the U.S. has no control over financial entities or organizations that may be aiding al-Nusra. The Syrian National Coalition chairman has tried to get America to rescind this designation - and it is clear why; to isolate al-Nusra is to place it in a position where it will be a hindrance to the other anti-Baathist forces in Syria.

  • Gun Murders vs. Terrorism by the Numbers
    • The ghettoes of our major cities are like the Wild West.

      Teenage gang members, other criminal elements with assault rifles, Uzis, and Saturday Night Specials have flourished. Gun laws don't deter them - neither do laws against murder. These firearms are plentiful on the black market and cheap.

      In 1973, the City of Detroit had the highest homicide rate of any major city in the world. Since that juncture, in 1978, the Michigan Legislature passed the Felony Firearm Law which mandated a 2-year prison term for anyone convicted of using a gun in the commission of any felony. Later, the County Prosecutor in Detroit announced stiff enforcement policies for gun violations. As a result, a small dent was made in the homicide rate.

      The ATF does not get involved in run-of-the mill gun possession cases - only major trafficking rings. I have seen clear violations of the federal Gun Control Act of 1968 (in which the feds could have filed felony charges) only charged locally by the City Attorney the offender at the municipal level as a misdemeanor and then had a plea bargain where the offender has his case dismissed if he completes a probationary period without problems. The local enforcement unit collects the fine, the court gets their costs and the offender gets a "slap on the wrist". Everyone goes away happy - especially the criminal defendant.

      There is a heavy volume of gun statute violation cases that circulate though the criminal dockets of the American court system that are rarely enforced to the full extent of the law.

      Tough gun laws are already on the books. There are insufficient resources for effective enforcement, a "Wild West" mentality that encourages gun violence, and widespraed black market availabilty of dangerous firearms that fuels high levels of gun violence in America.

      Politicians often have instances like the University of Texas Tower, the San Ysidro McDonald's, Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook in which they can come out of the woodwork and cheerfully promote their agenda. Obama and Holder had to have a certain sense of relief over Sandy Hook in that it gave the public a reason to forget "Fast and Furious". The Gun Control Act of 1968 and the "Brady Bill" were products of tragedies in which our nations political and civil rights leaders were the targets of gunmen - yet neither law prevented Sandy Hook.

  • Administration Seems Confused On Afghan 'End Game' - AP (.... in 1988! - Screenshot)
    • Real irony here is that the opponents of the Red Army and Soviet-backed puppet regime in Kabul were financed by the Chinese as well as the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. The Marxists were ousted and a new Afghan government composed of the warring ethnic factions and warlords led the

      After the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996, the Soviets then financed the same warlords (the "Northern Alliance") that brutally killed thousands of Red Army troops from 1979 through 1988. After 9/11 both the U.S. and the Soviets backed the Northern Alliance.

      Gulbuddin Hekmyatar, a key warlord that was funded with hundreds of millions of dollars in Saudi and CIA finding during the Red Army occupation, was targeted with a Hellfire missile from an Apache helicopter of the U.S. Army that missed in 2002 and he subsequently offered a bounty on American troops. Hekmyatar remains at large to this day and his followers are allied with the Taliban an al-Qaeda interests.

      I remember in 1985, a number of the Afghan warlords were in the Oval Office for a photo op with Reagan.

      The State Department has never understood some nations are not ready for democracy - they are pastoral and patriarchal - and Afghanistan is the clearest example of this. Its people will trust a warlord before a "democracy" controlled by Soviet or American-influenced leaders.

  • How Torture Misled the US into an Illegal War: What Zero Dark Thirty Really Leaves Out
    • " ....{i}n the end the White House asked the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA to find dirt on me and destroy my reputation."

      Nothing new here.

      The case of Abdeen Jabara, a University of Michigan alumnus and former director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, was fought in the U.S. District Court in Detroit for over a decade by the ACLU. He was an outspoken critic of foreign assistance to Israel based on its poor human rights record and served as defense counsel for Sirhan Sirhan during his trial and appeal. The published opinions of those ACLU-led proceedings disclose surveillance by the FBI, National Security Agency and CIA dating back to 1967. The government eventually settled the ACLU litigation and Jabara was never prosecuted for anything.

      A generation later, Tim Attallah, a Palestinian-American attorney associated with Michigan's largest law firm and well-connected in Democratic Party political circles was indicted in Detroit by the FBI in a sensational case for obstruction of justice and drug possession. Turns out the "obstruction" was advising a criminal detainee not to answer a detective's interrogation and the "drug possession" was an uncorroborated allegation of an informant that Attallah was seen with a Viagra tablet. Attallah was acquitted after a bench trial in federal court. Attallah was once featured in an Israeli newspaper article as an influential pro-Arab political figure in Metro Detroit along with Congressmen John Dingell and John Conyers.

      Speak out against U.S foreign policy and the internal machinations of the U.S. government begin looking for ways to discredit the messenger.

    • Osama bin Laden had also stated that the U.S. Armed Forces presence inside Saudi Arabia was the triggering event for al-Qaeda's attack on 9/11 and this has been pointed out by Ron Paul in his quest to curtail America's role as the international policeman.

      The U.S. did eventually transfer its Arabian Peninsula military HQ to Qatar after 9/11 - however bin Laden could attribute the cause of 9/11 to anything he wants after the fact and I doubt if his self-serving statements have any credibility as to the actual internal decision-making history of al-Qaeda.

    • Absolutely true.

      There is very little Palestinian presence within al-Qaeda, perhaps because they have very little geographic connectedness to Israel to undertake significant terrorist activity against it like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

      Although the Anti-Defamation League has correctly pointed out that al-Qaeda's leaders have made many public statements that were anti-Israel in nature.

    • "....al-Qaeda has never launched attacks against Israel."

      This is debatable.

      The October 7, 2004 Sinai hotel bombings killed 12 Israelis and were believed by most observers to be the work of an al-Qaeda affiliate organization, although the Egyptian government, who feared stirring the spectre of al-Qaeda influence within its borders, announced that they believed Bedouins were responsible.

      Al-Qaeda was also credited with the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Mauritania's capital, Nouakchott, in February of 2008.

    • If the people in Hollywood wanted to do a story regarding the CIA and the war against terrorism, they should have adapted the screenplay from "Uncompromised", a book from true story about a Lebanese-American Druze from Dearborn, Michigan, Nada Prouty, who became a covert operations officer in the Central Intelligence Agency and achieved significant acccomplishments in Lebanon and Iraq. Her story was related on 60 Minutes.

      The FBI suspected her of downloading CIA records regarding Hezbollah and using them to aid that organization. She was indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit and pled to lesser charges, including immigration fraud, from when she initially entered the U.S. as a young woman and attempted to obtain U.S. citizenship. She claimed to enter the plea agreement to avoid the expense of a criminal defense and she received no prison time. There was no direct evidence she gave any classified information to anyone. The CIA itself opposed her criminal prosecution. She left the CIA and lost her American citizenship.

      U.S. District Court Judge Avern Cohn at her sentencing stated that he felt certain counsel in the Office of U.S. Attorney had been motivated to bring the case to advance their careers.

      Prouty had been involved leading interrogations of Arab prisoners and had achieved positive results without elaborate torture.

  • Syrian Regime Bombards Damascus Suburb, Kills 36, as Rebels close on Air Base
    • Jibhat al-Nusra has, according to the Iraqi foreign minister, been staffed by Iraqi Islamic extremist fighters associated with al-Qaeda.

      Leaders of the Free Syrian Army have praised the al-Nusra faction for their skillful performance against the Syrian government troops, although the Free Syrian Army has also condemned their deployment of suicide bombers. The Syrian National Coalition chairman has sought to have the State Department rescind its designation of al-Nusra as a terrorist organization.

      The number of al-Nusra fighters within Syria is said to be only several hundred. They seek to impose Sharia law in Syria.

  • Top Ten Surprises of the Obama-Karzai Meet on Afghanistan's Future
    • Education and improved medical facilities is something that Afghanistan desperately needs.

      In the 1970s, Afghanistan had a lieracy rate only 5% - it has since improved to 36% - however higher education is still something sorely needed and outside the reach of many Afghans.

      The infant motality rate of Afghanistan is 166 per 1000 live births. Contrast this with the 4.8 per 1000 in Belgium and even lower in some other nations, such as Japan.

      Still, there has been improvement since the turbulent late 1970s when Mohammed Daoud, a relative of the last Afghan king was deposed as head of state and he and his family were executed in a menner closely similar to the last czar in Russia. Daoud's successor, the Marxist Nur Muhammad Taraki, was assassinated several months later and his successor, the Columbia University-educated teacher Hafizullah Amin was killed in a KGB-inspired coup the same day the Red Army rolled into Afghanistan and installed one of Amin's communist comrades, Babrak Karmal.

      The fact that Karzai's government has been as stable as long as it has is something of a victory for the State Department. Direct negotiations with the Taliban could accelerate the stabilization of the country from a military and economic perspective.

      The warlord-rule era of such leaders as Gulbuddin Hekmytar are an example of why a stable democratic way of government is needed in Afghanistan. Hekmytar received hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from Saudi Arabia and the CIA in the 1980s to fight the Soviet-backed regimes - even though he achieved no major victories. He was included in the post-Marxist Afghan government that ruled from 1992-1996. After 9/11 he threw his support behind Osama Bin Laden and the U.S. military and intelligence establishments have never been able to locate him - despite detaining and questioning many of his relatives. While the Western press gave Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar virtually daily news coverage, important figures opposing American interests such as Hekmytar were largely ignored in the media despite havng a significant following among Afghans.

      In sum, America's 30+ years of involvement in Afghanistan will not end anytime soon - however significant diplomatic and humanitarian progress has been made but plenty of difficulties remain.

  • Everything You Always Wanted to Know about US Drone Strikes *but Were Afraid to Ask (Currier)
    • The historical precedent of a CIA-inspired assassination program going haywire and leading to tragedy was Operation Condor when Chilean former defense minister Orlando Letelier was killed in 1976 along with his 25-year-old American assistant Ronni Moffit in Washington D.C. CIA agent Michael Townley was convicted but was almost immediately placed in the Federal Witness Protection Program after identifying anti-Castro exiles with long-time ties to the CIA as the actual decision-makers behind the extrajudicial killing.

      The Adnan al_Qadhi extrajudicial drone killing in Yemen has been very controversial as he was a Yemeni army officer with no apparent current "imminent danger" to the U.S. but was a historical thorn in side of the Yemeni government. It was believed that the Yemeni government lobbied for the drone strike as various factions of the Yemeni military, security establishment and third-party actors were in conflict with the regime.

      Also, one U.S. drone strike has killed a deputy provincial governor in Yemen, which was apparently accidental.

      When the NY Times #1 best-seller "By Way of Deception" was published in the 1980s, one of the complaints of the ex-agent who authored the book was that a Mossad secret panel whose existence was unknown to the Israel Supreme Court reviewed and approved requests by agency personnel to kill targets. The current U.S. program, however, was examined by U.S. District Judge John Bates relative to placing Anwar Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, on a "kill list" and Bates invoked the "political question doctrine" as partial grounds, in dismissing the case, essentially holding that the decision to place a person on a kill list belongs exclusively to the Executive Branch of the United States government and cannot be challenged in a U.S. court.

      As in the Letelier/Moffit tragedy, there will likely have to occur some outrageous extrajudicial killing in the current CIA practices before the public and congressional intelligence review committees stand up and take notice that it is time to demand full disclosure and accountability of those who administer these programs within the CIA.

  • Bombings in Pakistan Kill over 100, as Shiites are Targeted
    • It should be noted that Baluchistan, despite its rich natural gas deposits and other resources, has one of the poorest populations of any region within Asia. Pakistan has drained the lucrative natural resources from the region and returned litle to its Balochi inhabitants.

  • How Zero Dark Thirty Taught us to Stop Worrying and Love Torture (Greenberg)
    • Ironically, this treatment was similar to what downed American Air Force and Navy pilots endured in North Vietnam at the "Hanoi Hilton". Sen. McCain has opposed CIA use of torture.

      Remember how upset President Reagan got over the abduction and torture of CIA chief of station William Buckley in Beirut? That is what eventually led to the deals with Iran for weapons-for-hostages.

      My recollection is that Afghanistan was a signatory to the 1949 Geneva Accords so that Taliban members were covered by the protections, so only foreign fighters in Afghanistan had no Geneva Accords protections and were subject to torture.

      The CIA themselves conceded in the "Family Jewels" report in 1973 under CIA Director James Schlesinger that laws may have been violated in the detention and torture of KGB defector Yuri Nosenko, who was eventually concluded to be a bona fide defector and was paid compensation for his detention by the CIA.

  • Alex Jones, Gun control, and White Terrorism
    • A clever defense attorney would argue that Abdulmuttallab lacks credibility and there is no solid proof of Awlaki's complicity.

      British prosecutorial officials felt there was insufficient evidence for criminal charges against Osama Bin Laden for complicity following 9/11. Some were even saying his video communique "confession" broadcast on Al-Jazeera just before the 2004 U.S. presidential election could never be properly authenticated in a court of law.

      This is not new; criminal charges in Italy against the putative 1985 Achille Lauro mastermind, Palestinian Liberation Front Abu Abbas, were never pursued due to solid legal evidence of his complicity even though the State Department and President Reagan named him as the organizer of the cruise ship hijacking.

    • The "clear and present danger" test is a First Amendment protection as interpreted by the Supreme Court. It saved U.S. Communist Party members from jail for Smith Act violations.

      In 1970, in the case of U.S. versus Brandenburg, a segregationist leader was exonerated by the Supreme Court after the Justice Department prosecuted him for making a public speech similar to that of Mr. Jones. The First Amendment protected him.

      The Department of Justice lost cases against KKK leader Robert Miles for sedition in the 1980s and later the Hutaree militia out of Washtenaw County, Michigan.

      It should be noted that when the FBI was rounding up the Hutaree members, other militias in Michigan were admittedly monitoring county law enforcement communications channels.

      In Metro Detroit, however, an Islamic sect leader, Luqman Abdullah died in a hail of FBI gunfire while allegedly resisting arrest on federal charges.

  • Afghanistan: The End of America's Longest War?
    • During WWII, Ho Chi Minh was an ally of the U.S. during the Japanese occupation. The Vietminh often rescued downed American pilots.

      The CIA, but not the U.S.military, played a role in Vietnam during the 1950s.

      The first U.S. soldier to die in Vietnam was Spec. 4 James Davis in 1961.

    • The reason the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in December of 1979 was its leader, Leonid Brezhnev, announced the "Brezhnev Doctrine" -extending military aid to any Marxist regime that was in danger of falling. The interest in propping up the Babrak Karmal government in Kabul at that time was due to the fact that the Soviets were also arming Balochi rebels in Pakistan and were hoping that they would get their badly-needed naval base on the Indian Ocean. The Americans were preoccupied with the Iranian hostage crisis that had just began a month earlier. The Afghan military was so unpopular that the government had to kidnap Afghans off the street to serve and many Afghan units intentionally shelled their own fellow soldiers in mutiny.

      It was the void that was created by the Red Army withdrawal in 1988 that led to the collapse of the Marxist regime in 1992 and the fighting between the various Afghan warlords that led to the Taliban assuming power in Kabul in 1996.

      Neither the Soviets nor the Americans established a civil infrastructure in the country which would allow the Afghan people to eradicate one of the highest illiteracy and infant mortality rates in the world. During the 1970s the national literacy rate was only 5% - tying it with Somalia for the lowest in the world at that juncture. The lack of a stable rural economic base led farmers to cultivate opium poppies which has grown to such an extent that 87% of the worldwide opium production currently emanates from Afghanistan.

      It was only after 9/11 that the U.S. began bombing the then-abandoned terror training bases in Afghanistan that had been used by al-Qaeda.

      The failure of the Soviet Union and the U.S. to provide needed foreign aid to develop Afghanistan into a stable economy and democracy is traceable to the rise of the dangerous Taliban and al-Qaeda presence that exists to this day in that region.

  • Wikileaker Bradley Manning "Illegally Punished," 4 months off Life Sentence
    • It should also be noted that in the Pentagon Papers case, Dr. Ellsberg and Anthony Russo never were acquitted of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 - their cases were dismissed after a federal judge in Los Angeles assailed improper government conduct in the case in claiming it "lost" key evidence.

      The Manning defense team is clearly attempting to emulate the defense claims in the Pentagon Papers case to seek a dismissal.

  • Controversial, Not Controversial (Brennan v. Hagel, Big Oil v. Solar & other Media Hypocrisies)
    • Anti-Defamation League Executive Director Abraham Foxman had an op-ed piece published today in the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz in which he labeled Chuck Hagel "not our choice" but not as bad as he seems. He conceded Hagel was likely to be confirmed.

      J-Street has given its support to Hagel as well.

      The concept of direct negotiations with Hamas is nothing new among mainstream Israeli political leaders. Former Defense Minister Amir Peretz advocates a direct dialogue between Israel and Hamas.

      Former Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin has been openly critical recently of Netanyahu's positions. The resignation of Defense Minister Ehud Barak immediately after the Gaza conflict this November signalled an apparent indication of more internal backlash against the PM. Barak later announced he welcomed the U.N.General Assembly approval upgrading the status of Palestine to a non-member observer state.

  • Top Ten Reasons Chuck Hagel Should be Secretary of Defense
    • What is amazing is that the United States and its Central Intelligence Agency have basically won the Cold War with the collapse of the Warsaw Pact nations, socialist Egypt, and former pro-Soviet states like Afghanistan, Iraq, Chile, Nicaragua, Guatemala and soon-to-be Syria.

      Fundamentalist Islam was once our friend in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

      Now, America and Israel are actually backing Marxists in Iran - MEK - that are trying to destabilize the government. Even going as far to training them in military logistics in the U.S.; America is forming economic alliances in China, Vietnam and even has military installations in some of the Soviet republics. The chairman of the Syrian National Committee that was the exile organization that was fomenting the overthrow of Assad had served for many years in the central committee of the Syrian Communist Party.

      Fundamentalist Islam has replaced Marxism as the primary perceived danger to American values, world peace, and democracy.

      Will we have anti-Islamic inquisition-like campaigns as we did with anti-communists such as Sen. Joseph McCarthy and J.Edgar Hoover?

    • A friend of mine who was in a Shi'ite residential neighborhood in Beirut visiting relatives when the IDF invasion occurred in 2006.

      The Israeli Air Force dropped leaflets warning of a bombing run would strike the next day and to evacuate residents. The area was carpet bombed the next day. There appeared to be no military purpose for the air strike other than to make civilians homeless due to their religion. A variation of the "Search and Destroy" tactics employed by General William Westmoreland in Vietnam.

      Alleged IDF war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Lebanese people were not referenced in the Winograd Commission Report.

    • This kind of reminds me of the nomination of retired Admiral Bobby Inman (also formerly National Security Agency director and deputy director of the CIA).

      Admiral Inman was respected as a competent and intelligent nominee. He also had been critical of the actions of Israel in the USS Liberty incident and opposed sharing certain national intelligence with the Israeli government. He was almost immediately attacked by NY Times columnist William Safire as being anti-Israel upon his nomination becoming public and later withdrew from consideration.

  • The Secret History of US Drone Strikes in 2012 (Woods et al.)
    • United States District Judge John Bates, a former U.S.Army officer that served in Vietnam, had dismissed the initial Anwar Awlaki suit in 2010 brought by his father, Nasser Awlaki, to get him off the "kill list". Bates dismissed that case citing lack of standing by Nasser Awlaki and the "political question doctrine" - that the courts cannot constitutionally interfere with decisions of the executive branch due to the separation of powers of the three branches of the federal government.

      Since the actual killing by the U.S. of Anwar Awlaki in later drone strike along with that of his son, the representatives of the estates of both have a wrongful death suit pending in a U.S. District Court. The government asserts the additional "state secrets" doctrine as a defense. As long as the legal representatives are duly appointed by a court, the standing issue no longer exists.

      The ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights are prosecuting these civil actions claiming the decision-making processes in which the drone strikes occur are unconstitutionally vague and the manner in which they are carried out violate the 14th Amendment as they deprive the victims of life without due process of law.

      The U.S. has acknowledged that Awlaki's teenage son was not targeted but that his death was accidental; they also do not contend there was proof he was complicit in acts of terror. The ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights have labeled the teen's death as "reckless".

      The case involving Awlaki's son is unique thus far since it involves an accidental homicide of a United States citizen not implicated in any proscribed conduct - and a minor - by the CIA in a targeted killing of a different individual who was a suspect.

      In 1985 the City of Philadelphia killed minors who were innocent bystanders in attempting to evict MOVE activists from a rowhouse. The city paid millions to the estates of the decedent children.

  • Israel's Turn to the Far Right: The Point of No Return? (Beattie)
    • According to B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, violent retaliation against Israeli security forces for their interference with the settlement enterprise falls into the "price tag" category also.

    • More recent reports out of Gaza are that shipments of limited amounts of construction material are beginning to flow into Gaza from Israeli land checkpoints - although the naval blockade is unabated.

      It is also reported that more construction materials may be allowed to flow into Gaza if the cessation of missile strikes against Israel continues.

      This most recent development coupled with the expanded fishing rights of Gazans in that industry are two positive aspects from the truce achieved from the fighting last November.

    • Ariel Sharon's incapacity and replacement from office was rued even by Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, who was quoted in a Der Spiegel article in 2006 as saying that Sharon's commitment to disengagement from Gaza could have paved the way for further eventual withdrawals by Israel from other areas, including the West Bank.

      I am unsure whether this was a "conversion" or rather U.S. diplomatic pressure that caused Sharon to soften his positions in later years after the infamous "pastrami sandwich" comment.

    • Y'israel Beitenu is indeed far right wing.

      It's founder Revaham Ben Ze'evi was a former IDF general and anti-terrorism advisor to Golda Meir who was a strong advocate of "targeted killings" of Palestinians. He was assassinated in about ten years ago while sitting as Tourism Minister by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine following an extrajudicial killing by the IDF of Abu Ali Mustafa of that group.

      His leadership was replaced by Avigdor Lieberman, a former card-carrying member of the currently-outlawed Kach Party founded by Meir Kahane. Lieberman is now under criminal indictment for corruption.

      In a story that was almost not carried at all in America, one MK from that party, Esterina Tartman, a former IDF officer, openly opposed a prospective cabinet appointee due to the fact he was an Arab Muslim as a blow to "Jewish sovereignty." She was later voted out of office.

      Surprisingly, some Arab Druzes support these right-wing extremists and some Druzes have been elected to office in Israel under the Y'Israel Beitenu ticket.

  • UN: 60,000 have been Killed in Syrian Revolution (Video)
    • My sources are eclectic, however the Syrian National Council has an English-language website and one can subscribe to their e-mail newsletter issued from Seattle.

      The Syrian National Coalition has an Arabic-language website.

      Wikipedia has an excellent web page for both these organizations with links to the biographies of the key Syrian opposition leaders.

    • Why?

      Because of the omnipresent Russian veto.

      Russia is an ally of Assad like the U.S is allied with Israel. They are arming Assad and have an armed presence in Syria they want to retain.

      The same United Nations Security Council gridlock that allows Israeli war crimes and human rights violations go unpunished is also allowing Assad to have a free hand in wreaking havoc upon his own people.

    • The Free Syrian Army has pledged its allegiance to the Syrian National Coalition - the freshly-minted organization founded in Doha, Qatar last November and headed by a moderate Muslim, Moaz Al-Khatib. The Syrian National Council did not have such a commitment.

      The Syrian National Coalition's Al-Khatib urged President Obama to rescind the terrorist organization status of the extremist al-Nusra group.

      The Syrian National Council - based in Istanbul - was being seen by some Kurds as a Turkish puppet organization - and at least one Kurdish group refused to join the council. Interestingly, the Syrian National Council is chaired by a George Sabra - a Greek Orthodox adherent who had been appointed to the central committee of the Syrian Communist Party in 1985. The Syrian National Council now holds an impressive 22 of the 63 seats in the Syrian National Coalition.

      Feminist leader Suheir Atassi, an attorney, was given a prominent role in the Syrian National Coalition.

      The Syrian National Coalition now has been given almost unanimous recognition by Western states as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people - something the Syrian National Council could not get.

      The Free Syrian Army has now claimed to have moved its headquarters from Turkey to inside Syria.

      Russia has urged the Assad regime to commence a meaningful dialogue with the opposition.

      The Syrian opposition seems to be coalescing into a more inclusive "united front" and crystallizing into a single interdependent organization.

  • The Rise of the Sunnis and the Decline of Iran, Iraq and Hizbullah: The Middle East in 2013
    • As to point No. 3, agreed.

      There are estimated to be only several hundred Islamic extremists that are fighting the Assad government in their separate militias. The U.S. State Department has labeled them as a terrorist organization.

      The civilian organizational body that is linked to the Free Syrian Army has representatives that cover a broad spectrum of Syrian society. Other than a Kurdish group that has not joined this body, all ethnic minorities and and major stakeholders e.g. the feminist movement, have latched on to this organization that recognizes the Free Syrian Army as an advocate of its interests.

    • Danny Ayalon is the deputy foreign minister of Israel and a member of the extreme right-wing Homeland Party.

      Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss did nice investigative pieces showing statements Ayalon made to Israeli reporters all but confirming the Israeli government was behind an ill-fated lawsuit against the Olympia Food Coop in the State of Washington in which five plaintiffs attempted to overturn a board of directors resolution to boycott Israeli-made products. Judge Thomas McPhee not only dismissed the case but later awarded each of the sixteen defendants $10,000 in damages and requested that the defense submit an itemized attorney fee request for his consideration.

    • "Saddam Hussein.....stood as a barrier to Iran penetration of the Middle East."

      Hussein's antagonism of Iran in the Iran-Iraq war actually was a key factor in the release of American hostages that were taken from the U.S. Embassy in Teheran in 1979. The Carter administration's freeze of $5 billion in Iranian assets in the U.S. caused Iran to negotiate a release to free up cash that was badly needed to replenish its military supplies to be used to defend Iran against Iraq.

      The casualty figures that were inflicted upon Iran during that conflict were staggering. Remember the CIA complicity in the 1980s in getting massive FDIC-insured loans via an Italian bank so Iraq could purchase military hardware. The Hussein regime in Iraq was a valuable anti-Iranian ally of the CIA during that decade - even though it was publicly an ally of the Soviet Union.

      Although there was the apparent outrage over the Reagan administration sale of arms to Iran in quasi-exchange for the release of hostages in Lebanon, it should be remembered that those arms were needed against Iraq rather than harming purely U.S. interests. Iraq, again, indirectly aided the U.S. during this time frame by the pressure exerted from the prosecution of its war against Iran.

      The CIA and Mossad have reportedly aided the Free Syrian Army, and while it is correct that the deposing of Assad may cut off the arms supply to Hezbollah from Iran, Israel may in the long run suffer more from a Muslim Brotherhood-controlled government in Damascus that could be instrumental in bolstering support of Hamas against Israel.

      Since the Second Lebanon War, Israel has been shifting to the right politically and the far-right of the Homeland Party led by Avigdor Lieberman has been gaining steadily more power in both the Knesset and Israeli Cabinet despite its own shortcomings - the Israeli Justice Ministry just obtained a criminal indictment against Lieberman. Morsi's election in Egypt was instrumental in holding Israel and Hamas in check in Gaza during the last conflict - Morsi no doubt prevented a recurrence of the atrocities of Operation Cast Lead by sending a delegation to Gaza during the IDF bombardment and by assisting in negotiations to prevent a protracted IDF military incursion. The impotence of the world community to stop aggressive IDF actions in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead had been apparent.

      It is ironic Israel wanted Saddam Hussein removed from power, yet that removal brought to eventual power the same Shi'ite Islam worldview that was already existing in Israel's arch-foe Iran.

  • Dear Neocons: Iraqis still don't feel liberated: Iraq's Sunni Arab Spring
    • "...the Saddam Hussein version of the Iraqi flag."

      When Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq, he affixed, in his own Arabic handwriting, the phrase "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) to the official Iraqi flag. One of his apparent motivations was to identify himself with Islam.

      After his overthrow, the new regime in Baghdad left the phrase on the flag but replaced Hussein's handwriting with the Kufic script. The Iraqi flag is rarely desecrated due to this phrase remaining on it.

      The Sunni Muslims were the big political losers, with the gains of the Kurds and Shi'ites being at the expense of the Sunnis. Saddam Hussein's top military leader, General Amir Drori, has never been captured, and the virtual exclusion of the Sunnis from the post- U.S. invasion government has been an organizing principle of ongoing insurrection within Iraq. The most powerful figure in Iraq since the deposing of Saddam Hussein has been the Shi'ite imam Ayatollah Sistani - although the Western press seemed to focus upon the less influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Sistani has eschewed an intense political role other than to support equal political representation for all Iraqis.

      In a perfect world for the U.S. - the State Department and Central Intelligence Agency-organized and financed group of Iraqi exiles known as the Iraqi National Congress would have been flown in and installed as the new government in 2003 - and that organization still exists with its own website, however is a miniscule political force within Iraq currently.

      It would behoove the U.S. and the current Iraqi regime to extend the same type of amnesty and "olive branch" to the Sunnis as the America did to the Confederate citizens after the Civil War. It is a time for reconciliation - nine years of ostracism is enough.

  • Top 10 Ways the Middle East Changed, 2012
    • Agreed.

      Any two-state solution Israel allows will be a sham. It is expected to have numerous Jewish settlements criss-crossed with roads under IDF control. There will be pockets of Palestinian control in the major Arab population centers - but nothing remotely resembling true Palestinian sovereignty consistent with that of what one would consider an independent nation.

      An Israeli diplomat speaking to a group of Jewish students at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor recently, stated there would be significant pullback of IDF from areas of the West Bank - but that the projected national boundaries between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would be nowhere near the pre-1967 borders.

    • As to the Israeli situation, one of the rising stars of the Israeli right-wing is Naftali Bennett, a young computer software multimillionaire whose parents are from San Francisco.

      He opposes Palestinian statehood and wants increased settlement activity in the West Bank. His party is expected to pick up a substantial amount of Knesset seats and to forge a coalition with Likud, making the projected government to be one of the most rightist in Israel's history.

    • "....he failed to block Palestine's membership bid."

      True, however many prominent Israelis, including Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert supported the largely-symbolic UN General Assembly resolution so I do not think that many Israelis are particular upset over that failure of PM Netanyahu.

      "..he failed to get the US to attack Iran or endorse an Israeli bombing campaign..."

      Also true, however Israel claimed success in cyber-attacks against Iranian nuclear facilities which they claim severely set back the atomic programs in that nation - although it is open to debate how successful this joint U.S.-Israeli sabotage operation actually was.

      "...and he also failed to accomplish anything significant in his attack on Gaza."

      This is likewise debatable. 170 Gazans were killed and hundreds wounded - so one can say a "deterrent effect" may have been instilled by the IDF from this and also the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage were inflicted upon such institutions as the Hamas Bank and other civilian infrastructure. This damage is being trumpeted by the Netanyahu government as a measure of its success in the armed campaign. The Iron Dome missile defense system also received praise from the Israeli public for its performance in protecting Tel Aviv. The ensuing truce agreement with Hamas also extracted a promise to halt missile strikes on Israel. Overall the conflict appeared to be a draw with both sides having reason to claim some degree of satisfaction.

      Overall, Bibi appears to be "in the catbird's seat" as new elections are forthcoming in January.

  • Schwarzkopf (RIP) and How the United States got Bogged Down in the Middle East
    • @Darwin:

      The source of my statements was "From Beirut to Jerusalem", an award-winning book by Thomas Friedman.

      Friedman indicated that the Marines in Beirut, before the bombing, were unhappy about Friedman's analysis that the U.S. Navy shelling would likely be interpreted by Shi'ites as being in support of the Christian-controlled Lebanese Army that were the foes of the Shi'ites and the Syrians.

      It was a Lebanese Christian, Habib Chartouny, that was convicted of the bombing at the Phalangist Party HQ in Bikfaya that killed Lebanese Christian President-elect Bashir Gemayel in September of 1982; Gemayel had the backing of the U.S. That assassination was widely believed to be organized by Syrian intelligence. So there is certainly some reason to believe that the Syrians played some type of support role, as you contend, in the bombing of U.S. Marine base in Beirut in 1983.

      Afghanistan was under Soviet-influenced Marxist control from the late 1970s until 1992.

    • Osama Bin Laden received a royal audience with King Fahd and was a national hero in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after the defeat of Marxist forces in Afghanistan but was rebuffed with his offer to defend the kingdom against Iraq in 1990.

      U.S. troops were removed and re-headquartered in Qatar; this was covered in the media, but not to any great extent as a major story.

      Ron Paul pointed out that Bin Laden expressly based the 9/11 attacks in retaliation for the U.S. troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, which he considered "holy ground". This cause-and-effect link was, likewise, given little notice in the U.S. press. Just like the 1983 bombing of the baseU.S. Marines in Beirut was in direct response to U.S. Navy shelling of Shi'ite areas of Beirut at the direction of U.S. National Security Council leader Robert McFarlane - over the dissent and warnings of other military and foreign policy experts. The media often ignores the underlying motives of these terrorist incidents.

  • FBI Violated Constitution by Branding Peaceful Occupy Wall Street as Terrorist threat
    • This is not unlike the COINTELPRO program, the CIA's Operation CHAOS, or the Army Intelligence targeting of anti-war activists and the civil rights movement in the 1960s as potential threats to national security.

      All had a very tenuous link to "national security". J. Edgar Hoover expressed in a memo that he was concerned that MLK may abandon non-violence and become a messianic leader of a violent black movement. The CIA's Operation CHAOS kept files on over 300,000 Americans involved in the anti-war movement on the pretext of investigating a potential link to foreign influence and backing.The proffered reason for the Army Intelligence program was that if the anti-war movement became violent and required U.S. Army intervention, the Army would have some background of the forces that they would be encountering. None of these suspicions or concerns were ever substantiated.

      The Church Committee in the 1970s also investigated the National Security Agency and noted that the number of its personnel surpassed that of the CIA, yet most Americans were unfamiliar with even its existence and that neither the Constitution or U.S. Code expressly created that entity -it was authorized by obscure executive directives. Retired Admiral Bobby Inman, a former deputy director of the CIA and NSA director, expressed reservations about the broad scope of surveillance of the ECHELON program and how it impacted the privacy of Americans.

      As to Attorney General Eric Holder, he described a Washtenaw County, Michigan based militia, the Hutarees, as a "dangerous organization" after their members' federal indictment on sedition-related violations of federal law. Holder ironically came to Washtenaw County to address attendees at a University of Michigan commencement ceremony. U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts during the jury trial, announced their was insufficient proof to allow the case to go to a jury on any sedition-related charges. One of the criminal defendants this year was elected a township constable after his pre-trial detention and dismissal of charges.

  • The Afghan Sk8ter Girrls of Kabul (Video) - (Female Literacy has Tripled in Afghanistan)
    • I can remember researching the issue in the 1970s and discovering that only about 5% of the Afghan population at that time was literate - tying it for last with Somalia as the least literate nation in the world.

      Marxism has traditionally promoted universal education. Vladimir Lenin's wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, was a strong proponent of education.

    • This is incorrect.

      The Taliban actually were a creation of Pakistani intelligence(ISI) that took control of Afghanistan from the various warlords that the CIA, Red China, and Saudis backed in the 1980s to fight the Communist government in Kabul. From 1992 until 1996 these warlords controlled Afghanistan after they toppled the last Marxist regime headed by President Najibullah.

      The Taliban fought the Northern Alliance for control of the nation and were diplomatically recognized only by Pakistan.

      The Northern Alliance had the charismatic Ahmad Shah Massoud as one of its key leaders - he was assassinated just two days prior to the 9/11 hijackings by Al-Qaeda loyalists.

      While the CIA succeeded in winning this Cold War sideshow, they failed to establish an infrastructure and stable government within Afghanistan and this ultimately led to the takeover by the Taliban militia and an Al-Qaeda presence.

  • Christmas 2012: The Flowering of Middle Eastern Christianity and the Challenges it Faces
    • Regarding the Israel/Palestine situation, little has changed since the issuance of the Pastoral Letter on the Feast of Pentecost 1990 of Msgr. Michel Sabbagh, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem:

      "The protests and appeals to the international and regional communities received no effective response. An explosive situation gradually developed. The outburst of the Intifada in 1987 was the result. This uprising is a cry of protest against a situation which is unbearable. It proclaims that humiliation is unacceptable, that the occupation cannot continue, and that a solution must be found.

      The uprising is the language in which a people can formulate its demands for justice and peace to the Israeli neighbour and brother who has become an occupying power and oppressor. The Palestinians have proclaimed that they will not be satisfied by a status that reduces them to a kind of appendix to another people, or a human reservoir for the work force."

    • I thought it was ironic, with its rich Christian history, that the city of Nazareth today is predominantly Islamic, with about 35% being Christian. It also votes heavily for the Marxist-oriented Hadash Party in the Israeli Knesset elections.

      Ramallah, six miles north of Jerusalem, has been only around several hundred years and was founded by Christian clans, but now it is predominantly Muslim, the Christian population having emigrated during the 20th Century with spikes in emigration occurring immediately after 1967 and the commencement of the First Intifada with a steady stream of emigration continuing out of that area until the present. I agree the Israeli occupation was a major impetus in the lack of satisfaction of the Christian communities of the West Bank in general and Ramallah in particular.

  • Abraham Lincoln on the Purpose of Government (Or He Wouldn't be in GOP Today)
    • This viewpoint likely also shaped his view on slavery.

      Interestingly enough, a book Lincoln read dealing with the captivity by Arab Moroccans of white Americans as slaves in North Africa and the dehumanization thereof - Skeletons in the Zahara(sic) - was credited with shaping his strong moral convictions against slavery of blacks in the U.S.

  • Top Ten Ways NRA Stole Christmas this Year
    • "9. Offers to train elementary school children in use of firearms."

      This is not a bad idea. I learned how to use a rifle while at elementary school camp. Children should be taught respect for guns and how they are used in a safe and supervised manner.

      Horseplay involving children and weapons is a problem. Gun education is something in which young people can benefit by instilling in them as sense of respect for the power and dangers associated with firearms.

  • The Coming Conflict between the US and Israel (Chernus)
    • Jimmy Carter's best-remembered legacy was the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt. It also won both Sadat and Begin an equal share of the Nobel Peace Prize.

      George W. Bush's "Road Map For Peace" is largely forgotten and his presidency considered by many to border on failure.

      Obama's legacy as a success or mediocrity may depend on his ability to finalize a comprehensive peace plan in between Israel and the Palestinians.

  • UN Security Council Condemns Further Israeli Squatting on Palestinian Land, with Rogue State US Vetoing
    • "There was ethnic cleansing on both sides...."

      What about Plan Dalet - the blueprint for ethnic cleansing of Arab populations - was there a similar comprehensive plan by Palestinians? I have never heard of one. Wasn't Deir Yassin a neutral village? Did many Arab Christians welcome the Jewish refugees until they were dispossessed of their homes by Plan Dalet?

      "Every Arab who ended up on the Israeli side of the 1949 Armistice Line was granted citizenship in Israel........"

      Only Israeli citizens who have a family member who is an IDF member or veteran can take part in the full range of social programs the government offers that all Israeli citizens must pay for as taxpayers. This would mean almost all Jews in Israel are so entitled and almost no non-Druze Arabs would be so eligible. There are segregated Arab-only units in the IDF - this was abolished by President Truman in 1948 as to the U.S. Armed Forces.

      The Arabs in the occupied territories have never had voting rights in Israeli elections.

      No Arab had ever held a cabinet minister position in Israel until just a few years ago. One Knesset member, Esterina Tartman, called it an ax blow to the tree trunk of Zionism.

      "Arabs have served in every Knesset......"

      Yes, however Israel's Election Commission ruled to disqualify the "Arab List" from running in a recent Knesset election - but this was overturned by the Israel Supreme Court.

      "Hamas....uses violent terrorism to achieve its goals."

      When was the last time a Hamas suicide bomber attacked Israel since the 2005 IDF disengagement from Gaza? Rocket attacks have stopped since Israel has pledged to stop targeted assassinations and extended fishing rights in the Mediterranean. Israel will not engage in direct peace negotiations with Hamas even though many Israeli Jews support this - including former defense minister Amir Peretz.

    • "...another generation of Palestinians lives our dies without having a passport..."

      Decades ago, when I handled immigration cases, the Kingdom of Jordan issued passports to West Bank Palestinians. Later, the Palestinian Authority issued passports. Although I cannot comment about Gaza residents in these regards.

      The Palestinians rejected the White Paper as it did not affirm the authority of their then-leader.

  • Deaths by Firearms across the World - America among the Worst
    • 200 and counting.

      That is the death toll that is the result of guns that were disseminated in conjunction with the Fast and Furious program administered by the ATF to supply guns to Mexican criminal organizations in hopes of tracing them for eventual prosecution of illegal gun trafficking networks.

      Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales indicated the Mexican government had not been previously notified nor would they have approved the Fast and Furious operation.

      On April 17, 2012 the critically-acclaimed book "Fast and Furious: Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and its Shameless Cover-Up" by Katie Pavlich was published.

      On September 19, 2012 the United States Department of Justice Inspector General's Report on that operation was issued and cited "management failures" of 18 Department of Justice and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms officials administering that ill-fated program. Eric Holder does not dispute the findings but distances himself from the failures associated with that program cited in the voluminous report.

      Firearms-related homicides are a product of serious failures of the Obama administration.

      There is no doubt in my mind that Obama and Holder are hoping that the public focuses on Newtown and Obama's vague preachings about the need for gun control - and that the public forgets about the failings of Fast and Furious.

      The sad result of Newtown is not unique. Remember the 1966 University of Texas Tower rampage by ex-Marine Charles Whitman, the 1984 McDonald's massacre in San Ysidro by James Huberty, the Luby's Restaurant killings in Texas in early 1990s, the Columbine High School tragedy in 1999 and the latest major double-digit homicide tragedy being Virginia Tech only a few years ago.

      I doubt if anyone is directly to blame for the actions of Adam Lanza, other than possibly Mr. Lanza himself, assuming he was sane - which is highly questionable.

      On the other hand, Operation Fast and Furious is something that the Obama Administration and U.S. Congress should take a strong look at for assessing blame and imposing accountability. Obama and Holder owe our nation and Mexico an apology over the lack of executive oversight that contributed to what has occurred.

  • American Torture, America's Soul (van Buren)
    • I meant to say "...NOT to perform it on U.S. servicemen and private citizens."

    • North Vietnam used torture of Americans at the "Hanoi Hilton".

      North Korea tortured the Pueblo sailors in 1968 after their capture in international waters.

      Lebanese Shi'ite groups tortured Americans held in captivity in Beirut during the 1980s, including CIA chief of station William Buckley, who died after long periods of torture.

      John McCain and President Obama have both denounced torture and Obama had ordered the practice to stop.

      America will have to set a moral example in refraining from utilizing torture as an intelligence tool before we expect our enemies to perform it on U.S. servicemen and private citizens.

  • 7 Ways States have Undermined Gun Control Laws (Lee)
    • The Gun Control Act of 1968 is rarely enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice. The vast majority of gun prosecutions occur at in the state court system by prosecutors at the county or municipal levels and even then the cases are pled down to lesser offenses or dismissed altogether after a probationary period is successfuly completed.

      A person who supplies a handgun to a minor is guilty under the 1968 of a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. A federal conviction can ordinarily only be expunged via executive clemency - which is rare. In practice, I have seen the federal law almost never used and many times city attorneys will charge an offender under a local ordinance because the local unit of government collects the fines and gets away with only a misdemeanor conviction or none at all under diversion programs that are implemented in most large metropolitan areas. Even in felony state prosecutions, many if not most first time offenders are prosecuted under state law and given diversion program status or allowed to plea to misdemeanors - especially if they have no criminal record or a negligible one. Those who are convicted under state law of felonies can often apply for expungement after a certain time frame.

      Obama's rhetoric about the need for gun control is meaningless if the Office of United States Attorney in our respective federal districts have no resources to prosecute federal gun violations in individual cases. Right now the ATF focuses on gun trafficking enterprises and the FBI on criminal conspiracies that may employ firearms to enforce their agenda. The garden-variety citizen who may carry a handgun illegally to protect himself - as many do in crime-ridden inner city locales - will likely to continue to get their slap on the wrist in local courts.

      Judges, prosecutors, and police who vigorously enforce gun laws may find themselves unpopular with the conservative public. Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Clifford Taylor of the GOP was an outspoken proponent of gun control and vigorous police enforcement in general. He became the only Michigan chief justice in history to be voted out of office, in 2008. The pro-gun rights Libertarian justice nominee received an unheard of 9% of the statewide vote and drew enough votes from Taylor to ensure the liberal Democratic nominee was elected in an upset.

      Politicians may engage in political grandstanding to advance their gun control agenda - but expect stiff opposition from the pro-gun lobby.

  • As Jews, with our own Painful History of Oppression... [South African Jewish Statement on Palestinians]
    • Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad just called for an international Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions movement against all of Israel - his previous call was only against Jewish settlers. This is in response to the State of Israel withholding funds from the Palestinian Authority it needs to operate by paying civil servant salaries etc.

      Also, a judge in Olympia, Washington several months ago awarded $160,000.00 in damages to the Olympia Food Co-op and members of its board of directors against five plaintiffs who sued to invalidate a boycott of Israeli products passed by the board and implemented when Israeli-made products - except Palestinian olive oil - were removed from co-op shelves. The judge earlier had dismissed the plaintiffs' suit and later awarded the damages under the state's Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) statute. The judge, Thomas McPhee, requested the defendants to submit an itemization of attorney fees incurred so he could consider an appropriate award of legal fees to the defendants. The lawsuit was believed to have been supported by the Israel Foreign Ministry as an Israeli consular officer met with the plaintiffs previously, and its deputy foreign minister had commented favorably on the case publicly.

  • How America is Filling up itself and the World With Guns
    • "The Mujahidin were also encouraged by the U.S. to grow poppies for heroin production so they could buy even more weapons." It is now estimated that 87% of the world's opium poppy production originates in Afghanistan.

      There has been a positive correlation between covert operations intelligence activities and the international drug trade trade.

      As documented by the book "Legacy of Secrecy", anti-Castro Cuban exile leaders often used their CIA-backed covert operations as cover for the international drug trade while conducting raids and other actions against Cuba.

      During the Nicaraguan Contra insurgency, the CIA had the DEA station in Honduras shut down because it interfered with Contra resupply operations. There were gasps in the U.S. Capitol when one American convicted drug trafficker testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1988 of the complicity of Latin American government leaders, including Manuel Noriega, in the international narcotics trade. It was estimated one U.S.-backed Contra leader had supplied the U.S. with an estimated $300 million in cocaine. Federal officials later called the indictment of the drug ring's American traffickers the largest drug trafficking organization uncovered in North America to that point in time (1986). Ron Paul later suggested this was one of America's biggest scandals.

      The NY Times #1 bestseller "By Way of Deception" chronicled the Mossad involvement in drug trade to finance Israeli intelligence activities. The ex-agent who authored the book was later questioned by the Israeli government by deposition, as they took his allegations seriously.

  • What Happens in Langley Doesn't Stay in Langley Anymore: How our Spies Came out of the Shadows (Engelhardt)
    • Yes, the Invisible Government was the seminal book exposing the activities of the CIA.

      The publication in the early 1970s of "The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence" by former CIA official Victor Marchetti and State Department analyst John Marks was another key resource that ended up being a major impetus for the impanelling of the Church Committee.

      The "Secret Team" by former Air Force colonel L. Fletcher Prouty published in 1973 also exposed the intelligence community.

      The intelligence community has become more visible in recent years.

      In the 1960s we had the CIA have the Operation Mongoose anti-Castro project headquartered at a University of Miami Medical School building that was JM/WAVE and the CIA became one of the largest employers in Dade County, hiring thousand of Cuban exiles. The CIA became an "open secret" in Miami then. Today that unoccupied building is photographed by tourists as an unofficial historic site.

      In Dearborn, Michigan in recent years, the CIA (and other federal agencies) have co-sponsored the annual Arab-American festival where the CIA, FBI, Army Department and others have recruitment booths alongside falafel vendors. The CIA held a raffle drawing a few years back and regularly passes out promotional items such as bracelets, pencils, beverage coasters and other trinkets bearing the CIA seal. In 2009, then-CIA Director Leon Panetta gave a speech at Dearborn's Bint Jebail Club - Bint Jebail was the Lebanese city where the IDF was defeated by Hezbollah militiamen in 2006 during the Second Lebanon War. A CIA deputy director and Paul Wolfowitz have public appearances in Dearborn at various times to give speeches. The Dearborn-based Arab American News had the CIA as one of its biggest customers and that paper made a huge outcry when the CIA cancelled its advertising account due to its running wire service articles critical of the Agency - the CIA reinstated its advertising shortly afterwards while acknowledging its commitment to freedom of the press.

      Unlike the anti-Castro Cubans, the Arab-American community has given a relatively cool reception with some feeling recruitment into U.S. intelligence may require them spying on fellow Arabs.

  • Let's also Remember the 176 children Killed by US Drones
    • The Military Times on Friday, December 14, 2012 published an Associated Press article by Frederick Frommmer "U.S.: Toss lawsuit Over al-Awlaki's Death".

      The account covers a federal suit filed by the ACLU and Center For Constitutional Rights on behalf of relatives of Anwar a-Awlaki and Samir Khan over their deaths in a drone strike.

      The Justice Department is seeking dismissal on the grounds that the decision of the Executive Branch to kill an alleged "imminent threat" is barred under the "political question" defense. In other words, the separation of powers constitutional doctrine forbids judicial review of the executive decision to kill someone in a drone strike without regard to how incompetently the President, Defense Department, or CIA may draw up the rules or implement them in this assassination program.

      I am waiting for someone to raise an Equal Protection Clause argument under the Fourteenth Amendment that the drone strikes almost exclusively target Muslims. Other non-Muslim or non-Asian entities designated as terrorist organizations by the State Department have not been the subject of drone attacks. Would the Obama administration ever consider a European terror organization member as a drone target?

  • European Human Rights Court finds CIA Guilty of Torture
    • The Phoenix Program in Vietnam was counterinsurgency in nature and presided over by Saigon CIA Chief of Station Ted Shackley. It employed torture and was responsible for the assassination of over 26,000 Vietnamese suspected of Communist leanings.

      After the the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Shackley headed the CIA's Operation Condor, which established an intelligence network between the governments of the panhandle of South America. The agencies in this network specialized in abduction and torture of political opponents; over 60,000 persons were killed as a result of this network and it was the subject of the 1983 film "Missing" s starring Jack Lemmon.

      Shackley eventually rose to the rank of Associate Director of Operations of the CIA until his retirement during the Carter Administration. He later played a role in Iran-Contra and also helped George Bush in his 1980 presidential run.

    • "....no such cases have been brought in U.S. courts."

      The CIA, in its "Family Jewels" report commissioned by then-Director of Central Intelligence James Schlesinger to reveal actions taken outside the CIA charter, freely admitted that kidnapping laws may have been violated in the case of Yuri Nosenko, a KGB defector, who was subjected to various types of Agency confinement and torture until he was released in 1969 with the conclusion that he was a bona fide defector.

      Nosenko was compensated by the federal government and lived the rest of his life under an assumed name but no criminal proceedings brought nor any disciplinary action taken against CIA personnel responsible for these admitted actions.

  • Questions I ask myself about Connecticut School Shooting
    • I generally agree with your statements, however Israel is a good example of a nation that is similar to America in its addiction to weapons and violence.

      Remember the Dr.Baruch Goldstein shootings in the Hebron mosque. He was glorified as a hero by many in the Israeli settler community.

      Israeli federal judge Adi Azar was shot to death by assassin on a motorcycle several years ago. It was later learned that the shooting was ordered by an Israeli gang leader who had been angry at the judiciary due to adverse rulings.

      Yigal Amir, a young law student, shot Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in anger over the Oslo Accords.

      Then there was the Israeli army reservist who shot a mosque in Jerusalem some years ago.

      Israel has its share of violent firearms incidents. However, Israel also has universal conscription in which all serving citizens receive significant training in the safe use of guns.

    • The Gun Control Act of 1968 was the product of outrage over the killings of JFK, MLK, RFK, and Malcom X. The bill had been introduced prior to the deaths of MLK and RFK and those incidents spurred passage by Congress and its signing by President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 22,1968.

      The rifle used in the JFK assassination was legally sold by the retailer(although Oswald did violate federal law in purchasing it by using an alias). The 1968 law barred interstate sales of firearms except between licensed dealers to prevent a recurrence of similar sales.

      The Iver Johnson .22 handgun used in the RFK shooting was legally purchased by the shooter at a retail gun dealer.

      However, the handgun used in the Reagan shooting in 1981 was also legally sold to the assailant in Dallas - the 1968 law did not prevent or ban such a sale.

      No matter how harsh any legislative enactment may seem to restrict gun traffic in America - those who desire to acquire weapons will find a way to obtain them - including resort to the black market.

      Rampant, irresponsible, and violent gun use in the U.S. is a product of a violent culture. In addition to Britain you could have cited Japan as another example where gun-related murders are a small fraction of the rate of the occurrence of those homicides in America. The problem is not so much easy access to firearms as the lack of training, respect, and attitudes of that segment of the public who may be inclined to misuse them. Americans love violence in their films, their sports, and glorify weaponry as part of the historical success story of the U.S. as a world power. The heroes of the silver screen like John Wayne, Robert DeNiro, Gene Hackman and Arnold Schwarzenegger all have brandished guns in their most cherished roles. Guns are a source of power and respect for inner city youth who would otherwise be powerless.

      Guns are an integral part of our collective identity as Americans. Gun violence is a corollary of that equation.

  • Hostess Executives Dipped into Employees' Pension Funds
    • Pension plan recipients have broad remedies under the ERISA Act if pension plan administrators mismanage a program as these administrators stand in a fiduciary relationship with the employees whose funding they administer.

      As in the Enron scandal, the financial onus may eventually fall on corporate auditors who may have been able to detect poor funding and management practices. The Arthur Andersen CPA firm collapse resulted from the Enron fiasco.

  • Michigan Republicans propose anti-Sharia law to Discriminate against Muslim Americans
    • I am personally acquainted with Dave Agema, who is from western Michigan.

      He recently was elected as a member of the powerful Republican National Committee. He is a former Air Force pilot who flew numerous missions over North Vietnam. He is considered one of the most conservative politicians in Michigan.

      There are many, many Arab-Americans holding public office in Michigan - some as Republicans. GOP Congressman Justin Amash's family is from Ramallah, Palestine. Rashida Tlaib, a fellow Michigan House member of Agema is a Palestinian-American Muslim. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Charlene Elder is a Arab-American Muslim who wears a hijab on the bench. The Palestinian-Christian community in Michigan is heavily Republican. I believe it imprudent to target one ethnic/religious segment with this type of odious legislation. In this case, however, Mr. Agema will likely see a net benefit for his own personal interests as his position dovetails with that of his ultraconservative constituency.

      The proposed legislation is meaningless in its current language because any legislation which contravenes the U.S. or Michigan constitutions is already void and unenforceable in the court system. Agema only seeks to codify what is already the general rule of law and to apply it specifically to Sharia only for the only apparent reason to cater to anti-Arab prejudices among Michigan voters.

      I have spent decades practicing law in Michigan and while the judiciary is generally deferential and sensitive to Islamic issues in the courts, I have never seen a judge enforce Islamic law - although it has sometimes been raised in property disputes in divorce - it has never been applied to settle such a dispute in any case I am aware of. This is consistent with Michigan jurisprudence that courts will not interpret or enforce matters of religious doctrine.The proposed legislation is entirely redundant and unnecessary.

      Mitt Romney's strong pro-Israel positions likely were a factor in his landslide loss in his state of birth - he also lost Oakland County - his birthplace - to Obama in what has been a traditional GOP stronghold in Michigan.

  • America's Afghanistan Odyssey: When will Enough be Enough? (Stevenson)
    • Actually it was Babrak Karmal that was in power when the Soviet Union, acting under the "Brezhnev Doctrine", arrived in December of 1979 to save the Marxist regime on the brink of collapse; the Afghan army was rife with defections and Afghans had to be kidnapped off the streets to replace those who defected; some Afghan soldiers actually turned their artillery pieces on their own comrades.

      American Cold Warriors such as President Reagan ardently embraced the warlords and supplied them with the anti-aircraft rockets and anti-tank guns needed to defeat the Red Army. Osama Bin Laden was among the "Afghan Arabs" that fought the Soviets and returned to Saudi Arabia as a national hero following the collapse of the pro-Soviet government in Kabul.

      The Red Army was long gone when Dr. Najibullah's government was overthrown and he was executed in the 1990s.

  • Israel's Apartheid Deepens (Cole at Truthdig)
    • The fallout from Ariel Sharon's endorsement of the settlement colonies in Gaza fueled the rise of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and armed resistance against the IDF and some beautiful and well-developed Jewish settlemnts, such as Gush Katif were demolished at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of settler compensation when Israel disengaged from Gaza militarily in 2005.

      As the lessons of Gaza taught Israel, settlement activity can be reversible and will generate resistance and nationalistic fervor against Israel by West Bank Palestinians.

      I cannot see any reason why the Palestinian Authority is left with any immediate peaceful recourse except to petition the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute violations of international law.

  • Jeff Halper: Permanent Matrix of Control being Laid over Palestinian Territory (ICAHD Video)
    • Mr. Halper's presentation is not only highly credible but should be replayed in the general national media in the U.S. to illustrate the absolute inequity of the Israeli "Civil Administration". Most Americans would be shocked at the way house demolitions are effectuated in the West Bank, as described in his monologue.

      The international media often overlooks the individual painful stories of the victims of the occupation when they broadcast abstract reports of "settlement construction" or "military occupation" of the IDF. Mr. Halper's lecture certainly conveys the suffering of the Palestinian family whose home was demolished after 15 minutes prior notice.

  • Obama Recognizes Syrian Opposition as Government, as Fighters advance in Aleppo, Damascus
    • An August 2, 2012 Reuters story appearing in the Chicago Tribune cited unnamed sources that President Obama had signed a secret order broadly authorizing the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies to aid the Free Syrian Army in its attempts to overthrow the Assad regime.

    • The CIA from Turkey is reportedly rendering assistance to the Free Syrian Army, who coordinates with the Western-oriented Syrian National Coalition, also in Turkey.

      There are a number of Islamic-oriented groups that are also fighting the Assad regime that oppose the Syrian National Coalition. A key fear of the State Department is these Islamic militias may prevent the formation of a peaceful post-Assad transition government once Assad is deposed - which is nearing fruition given the recent scope of fighting.

    • It should be noted that last month, several key players in involved in opposing the Assad regime have also been critical of or rejected the secular pro-democracy Syrian National Coalition - which is NATO-supported and has broad-based diplomatic support in the world community and coordinates with the Free Syrian Army. The Syrian National Coalition absorbed the Syrian National Council, giving the council about 35% of the seats in its representative assembly, and making the Syrian National Coalition the effective government-in-exile of the Syrian populace.

      One of the groups is the Jabhat al-Nusra Front mentioned above and a number of other Islamic-rule oriented organizations involved in the fighting against the Assad government. The other is the Kurdish Democratic Union Party.

      These anti-government groups may have to be satisfied to avoid the type of disunity and ongoing fighting of the type that has plagued Iraq for the last nine years.

  • South Damascus a Battlefield, as Bodies Pile up, and Bread Crisis in Capital Worsens
    • The U.S. just granted the opposition recognition.

      As in Libya, one wonders the "political center" of this group?

  • The Green-Khaki Alliance: Morsi Deploys the Military for Referendum
    • Islamic fundamentalism and the Egyptian army have had a poor history. In 1981, a young officer, a Lt.Islambouli, led the assassination conspiracy against Anwar Sadat that led to eleven dignitaries being killed at a military parade celebrating the Yom Kippur War, including Sadat. He was a member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which is today largely considered to have been merged with Al-Qaeda with Ayman Zawahiri as its leader. The Sadat killing resulted in 30 years of Hosni Mubarak's rule. Islambouli was tried and convicted by a military tribunal and executed.

      The Muslim Brotherhood, however, is Sunni in orientation and cannot be characterized as unstable or violent as Al-Qaeda. Nevertheless, the concept of a "fundamentalist praetorian authoritarianism" that may be friendly to a Hamas regime in Gaza may not bode well for Israel, especially since Morsi has already shown an affinity and wilingness to aid Hamas in its conflicts with Israel.

  • Senate Wraps up Investigation of CIA Rights Abuses but You'll Likely Never See it (Currier)
    • In 1936, the United States Supreme Court in Brown versus Mississippi held that confessions obtained via police torture violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and overturned the murder convictions and death sentences of three black men. That case was prosecuted at the trial level by John Stennis, who later became a United States senator.

      It is morally incomprehensible that anyone can be subject to torture by the federal government. By employing such a policy, America encourages foreign governments and other groups to do the same to our citizens. President Reagan and the intelligence establishment were rightly upset over the abduction by Shiite militants of Beirut CIA chief of station William Buckley, who was later tortured until he died. America loses moral standing when it engages in similar conduct.

      Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have become embarrassing episodes in our history. John McCain, formerly an inmate of the infamous "Hanoi Hilton", has gone on record in opposition to the practice of CIA-sponsored torture. It has no place in our intelligence or military branches.

  • Egypt; New Demos; Obama Expresses Alarm; and al-Azhar Clerics condemn Constitution
    • Rather sad to see the Muslim Brotherhood involved in suppressing democratic reforms in Egypt despite the fact they themselves as well as their allies in Syria and Gaza have sustained a history of repression by Assad and Israel,respectively.

      Also the rebellion against Morsi's measures is sharply contrasted with the hero's welcome that its offshoot Hamas greeted its leader Khaled Meshaal with today.

  • As Rebels close in on Damascus, Obama warns he'll Intervene if Chemicals are Used
    • The killings at Hama were an outright massacre of thousands irrespective of whether or not chemical agents were deployed.

      More died at Hama at the hands of the Syrian armed forces than perished in New York during 9/11 but received little outside publicity in the media outside the Middle East.

      No one was held accountable - certainly not Hafez Assad.

  • NSA Whistleblower: Everyone in US under digital surveillance, Trillions of Messages Stored
    • The concept of NSA surveiilance has been litigated extensively in the Detroit court system. In 1972, Abdeen Jabara, a University of Michigan alumnus, filed suit in the U.S. District Court, with the legal assistance of the ACLU. Jabara had served as legal counsel to Sirhan Sirhan and later became executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. A series of legal opinions were issued, see e.g. Jabara versus Webster, 691 F2d 272 (6th Cir 1982), and other published law which established legal precedent on the Fourth Amendment, the Freedom of Information Act, and federal eavesdroping statutes.

      In the last several years, the ECHELON eavesdropping program of the NSA was fought by the ACLU in the same federal court in Detroit and Judge Anna Diggs-Taylor had held that it violated the Fourth Amendment, however the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed her decision. Judge Diggs-Taylor in the 1960s had been in the famous Selma/Montgomery march with MLK and other civil rights activists of that era.

      Mr.Binney is absolutely correct. The powers that be in Washington shall have a vast reservoir of information to damage virtually any political opponent. The ACLU should be fighting this tooth-and-nail. When 1998 Michigan Democratic gubernatorial nominee Geoffrey Fieger went on trial in federal court in Detroit for alleged campaign violations and was defended by Gerry Spence, there was testimony that the FBI questioned his secretary on any extramarital affairs he may have had. A juror that was questioned following his acquittal indicated he felt that the government may have been out to get Fieger. Surveillance and investigation often uncovers legal but embarrassing material and safeguards must be enforced against our government.

  • Top Ten Upheavals in the Arab World Today
    • The Jerusalem Post today contained a statement from PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi hinting that Palestine may now be turning over paperwork regarding Israeli settlement activity over to the International Criminal Court as a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

  • Israeli Reaction to UN Vote: Politicians Burn Palestinian Flag, Pundits fear International Criminal Court
    • Frankly, the scenes in Ramallah yesterday, when juxtaposed with photos of Western European Jewish immmigrants in Palestine on November 29, 1947 waving Israeli flags and celebrating, were very similar.

      One could not help but sympathizing with the Jews celebrating in 1947 after they collectively endured the Nazi Holocaust and 2,000 years of Diaspora. Conversely, the Nakba in 1948, the Palestinian Diaspora,the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and the ensuing systematic human rights violations and humiliating totalitarian imposition of martial law by the IDF made one feel a certain sense of sympathy for the Palestinians similar to that felt for the Jews celebrating on November 29, 1947.

      This General Assembly vote was a decisive psychological defeat for Israel, particularly those who opposed Palestinian statehood especially on the 65th anniversary of the origianl U.N. vote. It has also strengthened the hand of Israelis such as Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert who have supported passage of this U.N. resolution.

  • In Rebuke to Obama, Netanyahu-- Much of Western Europe to Support Palestine as UN Observer State
    • Ehud Olmert also does not oppose the UN General Assembly bid.

    • Columnist Karl Vick just authored a column "How Palestine Won Big at the U.N."

      He states that the Gaza conflict and the U.N. General Assembly vote have steeled the defiance of Palestinians. He cites that Hilary Clinton advised this to Netanyahu to get him to accept a cease-fire agreement.

      Indeed, the Israeli PM promised Gazans "crushing responses" to rocket attacks and also threatened to cut off payments to the Palestinian Authority in response to the bid for a statehood declaration. In fact, Hamas was able to strike both Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv areas in unprecedented fashion with Iranian-manufactured missiles; six Israelis died and 270 wounded in the week-long conflict Hamas dropped their prior opposition to the U.N. statehood bid for Palestine. Israel and the U.S. were alone in the U.N. General Assembly today arguing against the Palestine statehood bid - the lopsided G.A. vote an embarrassment for both nations.

      The upcoming election polls had indicated that Tzipi Livni - a centrist peace candidate - has a shot at defeating Netanyahu in the race for prime minister. Today's U.N. vote will likely not help Netanyahu in his re-election bid.

  • Obama's Lawless Drones have caused Yemen al-Qaeda to Triple (Young Turks)
    • All U.S. presidents since the enactment of the War Powers Act of 1973 have disregarded that act as unconstitutional. Congressional approval and oversight is often ignored by the chief executive and precious little is done to place executive power in check.

      The Senate and House Intelligence Committees should be screaming about this but who wants to be viewed as sympathizing with Al-Qaeda?

      In Israel, targeted assassinations of Hamas or Islamic Jihad officials require approval of the Israeli attorney general. Immediate threats such as a Qassam rocket crew being spotted by the IDF about to fire a missile can be attacked immediately. There is a publicallydisclosed protocol for targeted killings of members of the Palestinian resistance.

      It seems in recent years there has been a proliferation of CIA "paramilitary forces". Who is charge of these and how is their mission different than that of the U.S. Armed Forces? The CIA is not a constitutional entity but draws its authority from the National Security Act of 1947. The executive order of President Ford barring assassinations of foreign leaders, issued on the heels of lurid testimony of ex-Director Richard Helms and others before the Church Committee, has been mitigated in recent years so that extrajudicial assassination can occur.

      What surprises me by all this is Obama actually "signs off" on all killings. No prior U.S. president has ever previously admitted ordering the killing of any foreign citizen. A CIA-sponsored assassination program headed by the president is unprecedented. There is no solid proof that JFK or LBJ had direct knowledge of the existence of the CIA's "Executive Action" program to kill world leaders, such as Fidel Castro.

      Since U.S. Congress or the GOP leadership in general is likely to want to be seen as as asserting the rights of Al-Qaeda, it may be the ACLU or some other human rights organizations that may have to bring action in the U.S. federal court system to test the legality of Obama's actions in ordering extrajudicial assassinations.

  • Gaza in Rubble, and Slim hopes for Peace (Abdel Kouddous)
    • @Joe From Lowell:

      The U.S. got dragged into Lebanon in the 1980s largely due to to Israel's Operation Galilee invasion of that nation on June 5, 1982 to drive out the P.L.O.

      The Marines went in to Beirut in 1982 to secure that city and supervise the P.L.O evacuation of its fighters and the Reagan Administration guaranteed the safety of Palestinian refugees in Beirut. After leaving, the Marines returned following the Sabra and Shatila massacres. Numerous Americans were later taken hostage during that decade.

      Israel's occupation of Lebanon ushered in the era of the suicide bomber. The first struck the former P.L.O. HQ in Tyre, killing 75 IDF soldiers and 17 Arab prisoners in November of 1982. In April of 1983, there was the dea dly attack of the American Embassy in April of 1983 and later 237 Marines died in the suicide bombing in Beirut.

      American involvement in Lebanon had much to do with Israeli occupation of that nation.

    • Gershon Baskin, PhD, a peace activist that helped mediate the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange, has reported that a draft permanent truce agreement had been prepared when Hamas leader Jebari was killed by Israel. This suggests that Israel both deceived Jebari into believing a truce was imminent and knew that there would be a retaliation of rockets that could be used as a pretext for initiating Operation Pillar of Defense by the IDF.

      This scenario would be nothing knew for Israel. Secret testimony to the Winograd Commission that was leaked revealed that the Israeli government had planned the Second Lebanon War four months prior to the initial invasion of Lebanon - thus indicating the abduction of IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev by Hezbollah was a mere pretext for a pre-existing planned IDF military operation.

      There is also speculation swirling about why Ehud Barak suddenly resigned as defense minister.

  • Let the Palestinians have their “Kaf-Tet Be’November” (Sternfeld)
    • It is a good point that the 1947 Partition Plan did not have the approval of the United Nations Security Council and therefore could not be enforced.

      The Soviet Union backed the formation of Israel because they believed it would be Marxist in orientation. The First Knesset in 1949 had seats taken by members of the Israel Communist Party - including Meir Vilner and the Christian Arab Toufik Toubi. David Ben-Gurion's Mapai Party's symbol resembled the Soviet hammer and sickle.

      There were many Jews that opposed the declaration of a Zionist state. Ben Gurion had bitter arguments with former Warsaw Ghetto uprising subcommander Marek Edelman, who vehemently opposed Israeli statehood and was later recognized for his work in opposing Nazism with Poland's highest award. Ultraorthodox Jews also opposed a Zionist state.

      Many Arabs on the other hand did not oppose Israel's creation. The Druze fought the British in cooperation with the Jewish Underground from the 1930s. The Arab villagers of Deir Yassin, near Jerusalem declared themselves neutral and repulsed an Arab militia shortly before being massacred by a Jewish terror gang; Deir Yassin today is the site of an Israeli mental health facility.

      Plan Dalet was the blueprint of Zionist leaders for expelling Arabs from areas of Palestine and was being drawn up long before the UN Partition Plan was declared. The Palestinian refugee camps that to this day exist in Gaza and Lebanon are remnants of that forced expulsion of Arab residents of such places as Lydda, Haifa, Ramleh, Jaffa and other cities and villages. Deir Yassin, for example, was totally obliterated from existence as an Arab village, as were other Palestinian communities.

  • Israeli Vets on Israeli Treatment of Gaza & Palestinians: "It's Mostly Punishment" (Breaking the Silence)
    • The American press almost never covers stories like these, which have disturbing parallels to U.S. atrocities in Vietnam during the CIA-sponsored Phoenix Program.

      Israeli human rights organizations such as Machsom Watch and B'tselem have documented numerous human rights violations committed by Israel against Arabs, but these organizations are virtually unknown to the American public.

  • RT's Abby Martin Accuses Israel of War Crimes for Targetting Journalists
    • The most blatant example of the killing of a foreign journalist by the Israel Defense Forces was the demise of the Briton James Miller, 35 years of age who was filming a documentary with Saira Shah, on life in the Gaza region.

      He was shot in the neck as the documentary was being filmed and the fatal shot from can be heard as part of the documentary. Miller had planned to complete it by interviewing Israelis but his death prevented the Israeli side from being recorded. His award-winning documentary was published as a work in progress under the title "Death in Gaza". Gazans hung posters of Miller throughout Gaza as a martyr.

      No one was held accountable in his death.

  • Morsi's Second Coup Provokes Mass Protest in Egypt
    • Don't compare Morsi to Adolf Hitler; he is American educated with a PhD and was an engineer for NASA. He knows the American political system and democracy in general.

      That said, there are disturbing paralells between Decree No.6 and the rise of absolutism in Depression-era Germany. I will concede that it reminded me of the history of the decline of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazism. Anytime the executive branch of a government can unilaterally override a national constitution it is, by definition, a dictatorship - any political scientist will tell you this.

      President Morsi's sister just passed away due to cancer and PM Netanyahu had a personally-signed note of condolences delivered. This is a small but telling example of the respect that Morsi has acquired in the international community. Obama's repeated consultations with Morsi during the recent Gaza crisis also show American respect for his influence in the region.

      An op-ed piece today in Israel's liberal Haaretz periodical praising Netanyahu on his leadership and restraint during the latest Gaza incursion illustrates the value of Morsi in promoting peace in Gaza can have benefits for the current Israeli government.

  • Top Ten Steps that are Necessary for Lasting Gaza-Israel Peace (or, Good Luck!)
    • The State of Israel has clever ways to commit de facto discrimination upon its Arab citizens.

      For instance, IDF military service is compulsory for Jews but permissive for Arabs. Arabs are in segregated units in the IDF or, in the alternative are frozen out of many areas of the military due to their status as non-Jews. As a result a very small percentage of Arabs serve in the IDF, although significant numbers of Druze and Bedouin do so.

      Eligibility for assistance from many social programs administered by the Israeli government is determined by having a family member acquire service in the IDF. Since this includes the vast majority of Jewish citizens but only a very small percentage of Israeli Arabs, this system accomplishes the discriminatory effects intended.

      I could raise many more variations upon this theme of anti-Arab discrimnation by the State of Israel, but I believe one can understand how it is invidiously implemented by Israel.

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